Mammograms: What Now??

woman getting mammogram( — In the latest findings to fuel the debate on when to start getting mammograms, new research adds support to those suggesting that annual breast X-rays should begin at age 40.

Screening younger women has been controversial, with 2009 guidelines from a U.S. federal task force recommending against routine mammography screening for average-risk women in their 40s.

The new study showed that mammograms were just as likely to find invasive breast cancers in women with no family history of breast cancer as in women with a family history of the disease. Invasive breast cancer grows beyond the milk ducts or lobules of the breast.

The women in the study were aged 40 to 49.

And women with and without a family history were just as likely to have cancer that had spread to the lymph nodes, says study leader Stamatia Destounis, MD, a radiologist at Elizabeth Wende Breast Care, LLC, in Rochester, N.Y.

Women without a family history are “average-risk” women, suggesting that annual mammograms are indeed beneficial for this age group, she says.